x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Required reading: mod subculture

Our top reads on mods, and why the cyclist Bradley Wiggins is one of them.

Outside cycling circles, Bradley Wiggins was largely unknown six months ago. Now, the 32-year-old Englishman is the first man ever to win the Tour de France and Olympic gold in the same year, and is one of the most recognisable sportspeople on the planet. No surprise, then, that much has been made recently of Wiggins's sartorial style. Wiggins, we're told, is a mod, a statement that leaves the uninitiated - and that means much of the world outside the UK - wondering: what exactly is mod culture, and why is Wiggins an example of it?

Mod culture has its origins in the melting-pot mixture that was young, working class London in the 1950s. Turn to the definitive Mod: Clean Living Under Very Difficult Circumstances by Terry Rawlings (Omnibus Press, Dh115) to learn how jazz, soul and beatnik music came together in the coffee bars and nightclubs of 1950s Soho, shaping the outlook of a post-war generation who dreamed of freedom and affluence.

Soon enough, the mods acquired their trademarks. Turn to Mods! by Richard Barnes (Plexus Publishing, Dh75) to see the sharp suits, Italian shoes and Lambretta scooters that defined the look. Best read while listening to the 1960s bands that provided the soundtrack: The Who, the Small Faces and The Kinks.

By the mid-1960s, the mod movement was in decline at the hands of hippie-influenced psychedelic rock. But the late 1970s saw a comeback. See Saturday's Kids by Darren Russell (Foruli Coex, Dh115) for the story-in-pictures of the 1980s mod revival. It was spearheaded by the man they call the modfather: read Paul Weller: The Changing Man (Corgi, Dh59) to learn why Wiggo and mods everywhere idolise the former lead singer of The Jam.

Will mod culture now see a third comeback, in light of Wiggo's superstardom? We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, scour the great man's autobiography, Bradley Wiggins: In Pursuit of Glory (Orion, Dh52) for clues.